Hoodwinking whom?

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Sun May 19 23:46:34 MDT 1996

I agree that this Sokal hoax in _Social Text_ is both a bit of a laugh
and something of a warning to those who edit that journal.

But that it says anything in particular about postmodernism seems
unlikely to me.

Louis, in particular, is always keen to place left groups such as the SWP
in their appropriate historical and social contexts, the better to
understand (and indeed, criticize) them.

I would have thought that it might make sense to do as much with academic
groups and tendencies.

I believe that _Social Text_ was founded by Fred Jameson and Stanley
Aronowitz, neither of whom is any particular friend of "postmodern
relativism" (let alone post-marxism).  At present the collective, which
also includes (to my knowledge) Andrew Ross and George Yudice, could
most likely be described as veering towards cultural studies--quite a
different beast altogether.  At the same time, the articles withing the
journal tend to be very diverse and not to follow any particular party
line (and it does indeed seemt to me that it was in a rather patronizing
zeal for such diversity that Ross et. al. decided to publish Sokal's
piece).  Thus, for example, _Social Text_ also published what is to my
mind the best single critique of cultural studies--Jameson's "On
'Cultural Studies,'" a review of Grossberg etc.'s book by the same name.

Moreover, given that marxists tend (quite rightly) to insist that the
mistakes (even, crimes) of some who call themselves marxists hardly
necessitates chucking marxism altogether, it seems only proper to accord
the same reasonable standards of proof and debate for the analysis and
discussion of other intellectual and political movements.

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu

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